Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bottom of the World 101

The Bottom of the World is the Antarctica of Hekinoe, a big fat pile of ice and desolation and weather that is potentially far colder than -50 degrees Fahrenheit on a good day. I have designed it to basically copy the climate and environment of Antarctica, with some embellishments. It is cold there, really cold, cold as Hell, and frankly, there isn't that much to do.

I've told the guys that A'lst is there, and his compound is basically the only point of civilization in the cold white expanse. He has a heavily defended compound designed to preserve his people from the elements, and the other dangers of The Bottom of the World while he does his work. If the weather isn't quite enough, there are a few other dangers as well. The Bottom of the World has its own version of the great ursines from The Beast Lands, bigger and angrier bears as white as the snow around them. 

So to derail for a minute, dire has always been DnD's word for big faux-prehistoric animals. They base it on reality, then put big bony spurs on it. The dire bear is actually called a cave bear, and to give you an idea on size, the biggest of grizzly bears are about the same size as the smallest cave bears. Modern polar bears are about the size of cave bears, though the range of their sizes extends to both smaller and larger than the cave bear. None of this is relevant really, my great ursines are still ridiculously big, just like all the beasts of The Beast Lands. The great white ursines are bigger than the great ursines, so that is special. 

Additionally, like many continents in Hekinoe, The Bottom of the World has its own variety of giants living in its icy bosom. Unlike The Known World, these giants are aggressive and violent, huge blue-skinned creatures that are tusked and craft crude axes out of razor sharp ice. Sometimes they gather in tribes, sheltering in the shadow of big black stone pyramids, others just wander the icy wastes hunting for food. They usually just wear the thick hides of dead great white ursines as armor, as they are incredibly resilient to the deadly cold of The Bottom of the World.

Beneath the thick ice of The Bottom of the World, are huge black pyramids, not tiered city things like Meroteth, but actual black pyramids. They're not glassy like Meroteth and the Necropolis either, more like black granite or something along those lines, and they're not the black stone of Kethranmeer's hammer and Steeltown's walls. (A side note, it occurs to me that perhaps there are too many types of black stone in Hekinoe.) Just big, silent, black pyramids beneath the ice. A'lst has played around with and explored them a little, but they're not his main purpose for wandering south. 

So, in short, The Bottom of the World is a dangerous place. The cold will kill you, the natives will kill you, and the critters will kill you. So what is it that A'lst seeks there? Peace and quiet in which to work, certainly. Whatever other reasons he may have will be up to the players to discover. 

So I guess there is some info and mystery, and hopefully stuff that will interest the players, despite the general emptiness of the place. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Las Kusseth

I am anxious about my Hekinoe campaign, specifically The Known World. I am running low on players at the moment. With Fred's schedule changing, he cannot really commit to sessions anymore. Perhaps he'll be able to come, perhaps not. Shawn has been out for a while, what with the spawn. This leaves with me Jeremy, John, and Eric. John is fairly easy to work with and gives me plenty of notice that he can't come or that he is coming, he is kind of awesome in that aspect. Jeremy and Eric are reliable as well, a little slow on the response to my questions about whether or not they can come, but they let me know.

So we are essentially down to three players. Eric is going through some frustrating issues with school though, the work load for class is such that he may have no choice but to give up DnD, which is fine. It is a legitimate thing to do that does not invoke my wrath and hatred.

This issue has led me to recruit players from other areas of my life. One of Heather's friends wants to game with us. He has said before that he'd like to game with us, we've just had too many players and were too deep in a plot when he originally asked a year or so ago. I also have a replacement for Shawn, and Jeremy's wife Laura would like to join us as well.

So we have plenty of players to keep the game going, however my issue with it is this: The plot of the campaign is so intrinsically tied to the previous campaign and the current group of characters, the it is meaningless to new players. If things go the way I worry they will, we have Jeremy and John and three new people with absolutely no knowledge of the plot or that campaign world. John likes to have a story to go along with his DnD, he has said that before, but it is not his main focus when he plays. I know Jeremy is a big fan of my world, but he already gets flustered when in roles of leadership and authority and I feel he would have trouble guiding and educating the people who are not invested in the plot at all. I mean, we'll play the game and it will be ok, but it just feels like a lot will be lost with a group where Fred, Eric, and Shawn have been replaced by three new guys with no ties to the previous campaign other than tenuous ones that I use to justify their presence.

The plot of the campaign is about to get cool, really cool, exciting to me cool. We're about to delve deeply into Kethranmeer and A'lst's history. A lot of cool shit is about to happen, and I think Fred and Jeremy and Eric and John would all think it was pretty awesome stuff. The three new players might think it was neat or cool, but they don't have that strong connection to Kethranmeer like the other guys do.

Edit After The Fact: It looks like everyone will be able to come to the next scenario in Hekinoe, and it looks like Martel and Fred will be able to participate in Fourthcore, so I guess I am just a worry wart and freaking out here. We'll see. After basically a month not doing anything DnD related, I'm starting to get really excited again about the next scenario. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Writing Stuff

Writing has been on my mind a lot lately, and I've been doing it a lot more lately, as previously stated, it is kind of a coping mechanism of mine. The first time I sat down with some Deathmole playing and the PageFour program opened up and ready to go, fuck, man, that was rough. The blinking cursor glared at me relentlessly, it was hard. I haven't wrote wrote, in quite some time. Stuff for my Hekinoe setting or the campaign book or the wiki just flows, it comes to me easily. Writing a story for pleasure and trying to make it not stilted and somewhat instructional like the wiki or campaign book is difficult.

Oh do I hate blinking cursors, oh do I hate them. I once joked that if Fred were a ranger, his favored enemy would be Wil Wheaton, mine is the blinking cursor.

I've been toying around with a few writing projects to idle away my time. Mainly I've been concentrating on writing out the tale of the first campaign and playing around with The Norse story and converting it into The North Story, so it fits back into Hekinoe. All of this is inspired by my desire to revisit Keroen Skathos and the Nel and that sort of thing, but I can't bring myself to do that.

For some reason, I just look at the book and the outline of the changes I want to make, and I just feel...not nothing, but not really excitement or desire. I just can't get excited about the Nel like I used to. They're not fascinating and intriguing to me any more. They're too powerful and too hard to write challenges for. There is nothing compelling about their struggles, they're little arrogant gods smacking each other around with poorly defined and unstructured magic. Keroen Skathos just goes off the deep end and starts killing shit whenever anyone gets in his way, he doesn't think around problems, he just cuts them in half and steps through, or blows them apart with his magic. Granted, that is who he is, that is how he resolves problems, and it can be neat to read the story, but the further I get from the story, the less cool it seems. These limitlessly powerful entities I created in my early twenties don't really attract me the way they did eight or so years ago. I could rewrite it, tone them down, cripple Keroen and so on, but I don't want to. I wrote them as they are, they were supposed to be over the top, to change that feels, I dunno, disingenuous I guess. Like I'm sacrificing the "truth" of the characters to make it a better story or something. Heh, I dunno. I guess what I am saying is that I'm over writing about magical demigods, at least the Nel, for the time being.

I do kind of want to keep writing in Hekinoe, I love that place. I mean, why not? Everyone writes somewhere, why not keep my stories in Hekinoe? Greenwood still writes about Elminster and the Realms (Ed Greenwood is the creator of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, it is his original homegrown setting he played with his group), I believe. Salvatore is working on his umpteenthundreth dual wielding dark elf novel involving drow and dwarves and the underground.Weis & Hickman created and wrote in Krynn, though they've distanced themselves from it nowadays. 

I do have this silly idea that I kind of want to play with in a non-serious fashion, kind of in the vein of Inconsistencies Continued. I once read on a blog about modelling a DnD campaign based on the EMS film Mother, Jugs, and Speed. Bill Cosby plays Mother. It is about an ambulance company and the trials and tribulations of competing with other services in the area and dealing with the idiosyncrasies of all the nutjob personalities working for the service. It is a bad movie and too many people in EMS feel that EMS should be like in the film, watch it, you'll understand. Bringing Out The Dead is a fantastically better film, in case you care about learning about EMS.

I had a thought that it might be hilarious to base a story on this concept. Kusseth has some fairly advanced medicine compared to the rest of the continent, and it might not be irrational for them to have poorly trained proto-EMTs carting the sick, dead, or injured to a sick house or asylum or graveyard or whatever. Anyway, I feel that a lot of nonsense and humor and violence could be found in following two to four Kusseth EMTs as they wander into sorcerous disasters and gang fights looking for bodies to cart away, or rob. I dunno, we'll see, might not develop into anything, but it is good that I am wondering about this sort of thing. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Alternate Rules: Mass

I've been considering for a while that big dudes should just be plain harder to kill. To a certain extent, Constitution covers this, you know? I dunno, maybe I'm kind of barking up the wrong tree here, but, we'll see. Ok, so a big dude, like a huge dude, simply has more mass to cut up and hack through to get at his insides. A lot of things can represent this: the Toughness feat and other feats like Endurance and Diehard, and an eighteen in Constitution is considered to be a superhuman level of stamina. 

So I'm looking at the rules for the Construct type of creature, and they don't have Constitution scores. However, because they are so tough, they do have bonus hit points based on size starting at ten for being small and capping at eighty for being colossal. Now, I am not suggesting every seven foot tall Child of Volung should have twenty bonus hit points to his name or something like that. 

What I am considering is that creatures of large size gain a one time bonus to hit points equal to their Constitution modifier. Perhaps something along the lines of for each size category larger than medium, living creatures gain bonus hit points equal to their Constitution modifier. Designed in this way, the feat is mostly irrelevant for normal characters. Which is fair, as they are normal. Larger characters, like some Soulless, Rankethlek, or Fell Humans, unnatural creatures with superhuman sizes and abilities, would make the most use of this rule, it would also offset that fact that larger sizes are something of a penalty. Except when you are wielding a massive two handed sword to hit a guy from twenty feet away, heh. 

While I'm thinking of it, would it be appropriate to create a feat or something that bases your hit points or Fortitude saves off of Strength, rather than Constitution? I vaguely recall a series like that in some of the Complete books from 3.5. I think there were some that allowed you to kind of switch up your saves the way 4th Edition allows you to base your defenses on the higher of two stats. 

I dunno, just a few thoughts about hit points I guess. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Robust Five

Prologue - Beltan          

Beltan was the oldest prison camp in Kusseth. In the many decades since the shafts were first dug it had become a heavily mined crater of mined out veins and collapsed tunnels surrounded by rocky hills and brown scrublands where penal legions trained and died for the Kussethian war machine. The mine was old and deep, and beneath the collapsed tunnels and weakened support timbers, veins of wolf-iron and springsteel were still thick. Convict miners bled and died in the dark tunnels, dragging carts and crates of ore back up to the surface under the grim eye of corrections wardens. 

The mine was legendary among criminals of Kusseth, their own special mythic underworld of cruel mining and grueling training for the penal legions, the place white and blue collar criminals alike ended up, sentences decided by random and entirely dependant upon the mood of a judge or warden. It was a hole run by wardens and split up into little empires of warring gangs and competing platoons. It had been the first penal colony of The New Empire, and the first outpost of Kusseth when the nation warred for its freedom. 

In the fenced in compounds around the mine, the blood of penal legionnaires perpetually sated the thirst of the dry scrubland that was Kusseth's soil. In the trenches around the camp prisoners screamed and cursed as they were whipped and shot and made to suffer and bleed in the name of Kusseth's war effort. In the yards of the prison proper gangs fought under the watchful eye of wardens. Bards traded coin and smokes with wardens in exchange for news of the outside and special treatment on the inside. In the upper mines, Elduman psychics bored out the minds of fellow prisoners and turned them to the task of mining on their behalf. 

In the lower mines, where shafts were surrounded by walls of pure wolf-iron and beltanizine crunched under every step, a Soulless called the Beast was chained. Under his scything talons and mindless fury huge piles of ore and rock were excavated. Wardens and miners tripled and quadrupled their required ore orders with no more exertion than it took to batter the Beast with metal flails or wound it with a welding torch when it grew too enraged to be controlled. 

None escaped Beltan without being changed by the experience. It tortured men and women, broke down the proud, steeled the spines of the weak and turned kind men into apathetic desperados. The gangs took what they desired from the pool of convicts, reinforcing what made them strong and cutting away what made them a liability. Beltan was a black cruicible of bloodied dirt and rock that took men and reworked them into a living parody of its own uncaring cruelty and hopelessness.

Edit After The Fact: It now occurs to me, about three days after writing this, that I have just turned Beltan inmates into Sardaukar. Oh well, shit happens and the spice must flow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Further Soulless 101

So I was talking to Fred a few weeks ago (at the time of this posting), he had recently read my Omne 101 (Through 8) post. He raised an issue and I want to address it. The question he had was that, if the Soulless are animated by bodiless Fallen, potentially older and more powerful ones, why are the Soulless themselves treated as slaves and property?

The Fallen and the interaction of their personalities form the basis of the Soulless' personality. The Soulless eventually develops from bits and pieces of the minds of the Fallen that animate him, while also being formed by his experiences and that sort of the thing. However, the Soulless is not the Fallen. The Fallen are untouchable when animating the Soulless, if removed from it, the Soulless will no longer be animated and will be destroyed.

The Soulless can be tortured or tormented or welded or rusted beyond all ability to move, but the Fallen within them will feel and know nothing of this hardship. They can see and hear what the Soulless sees and hears, but they cannot speak through him, though he does speak with their voices. The Fallen within a Soulless are basically invulnerable, unless the Soulless is completely destroyed, or the Soulless is converted to a Rankethlek and the beltanizine of the lighting heart absorbs and destroys their essence.

So, the Soulless are still property. They are still treated as slaves and such, because they are not Fallen. Would it not be more constructive to treat the Soulless with respect and honor as the physical protection granted to the remains of old and powerful Fallen? They did, once, with the Omnes. Look what happened? They created super powerful, almost unstoppable and uncontrollable golem wizards. If the Soulless body gets too familiar with the Fallen inhabiting it, if the Soulless fuse irrevocably with the Fallen and the union becomes willing and perfect, the Fallen will have Omne-9 through 10,000+ on their hands, albeit ones not quite as powerful as the original eight. 

For the Fallen to have their nearly unending labor and warrior force, the slavery of the Soulless has become a necessary evil. To relent in it at all would be to allow the Soulless to not look upon the Fallen that are their minds as enemies and enslavers, but as allies. If there is no strife within the mind of the Soulless, their personality will merge with those of the animating Fallen. Who can predict the outcome of what the merged personalities will be? Will the Soulless' anger at enslavement or the patriotism of the animating Fallen be the guiding ideal? The Soulless must be beat down, welded, abused, rusted, sacrificed to the machine of war, for if the Fallen relent in that, the Soulless could become unstoppable warrior sorcerers like their forefathers.

And who is to say that the Fallen do not still build Omne-like Soulless in secret, deep within their laboratories beneath the Necropolis? Who is to say that the Council of the Dead (the ruling body of The Fallen Empire when The Bleak Tyrant is feeling bored and uninterested) is not composed of iron and wolf-iron clad liches? Vampires with fangs and ligaments of springsteel? Huge hulking zombies with muscular limbs bound in bands of rune etched steel?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Coping Mechanism Activate!

There used to be some stuff here about my divorce and Facebook, this isn't a personal life blog though. Strictly a hobby and rpg blog, except where those things intersect with my personal life, which I guess is a lot. Heh. However, when I talked about the divorce I talked about Facebook for a minute and came up with this: "...The Book of Faces (which is now a magical artifact that steals souls in Hekinoe and allows the user to take on the faces and personalities on the pages like some sort of doppelganger)."

Anyway, once more,  I want to write about why DnD is so important to me.

So DnD. I am into it hardcore, you may have read the My Life In Gaming post and how much effort it has taken for me to just have the right and capability to game. Very few people I know in real life can keep pace with me and my knowledge and love of the game and the genre and the hobby in general. It is my main interest in life, the focus of basically all my hobby related energy. Perhaps that is unhealthy, and I know this and accept it. When I started playing this previous campaign, I fell in love with Hekinoe in a way I never have before with a campaign setting. I know sometimes I type angry and passive aggressive things on the blog here, but it does not hold a candle to what I felt during Shadow Chasers or Orsus. I know it doesn't seem like it at times, but I willingly gave up my DM's rage. I decided that I cared about the story and the place and the characters far more than I did about attendance and problem players and feeling like my players respected me. I flipped a switch into the on position and I have since welded it into that position and submerged it in an ocean within an adamantine chamber. Then I dropped a kraken on it.

On a side note, the original Clash of the Titans beats the ever loving piss out of the newer version.

I have dug too deep and too greedily, and I don't think I will ever see the light of day again. Part of me needs to game, part of me truly does love the game too much, it is my passion. I could stop playing video games, I could sell my revolver, I could sell my magic cards and paints and models and not flinch. To not game would be, I dunno. It would suck.

I am a storyteller. I like to create worlds and characters and stories. I have a lot of imaginative and creative potential in my head. When I was in elementary school and younger, I used to tell myself stories in bed. I would lay awake at night and just tell myself stories about whatever popped into my head. Later, that developed into a weird thing where I would talk and mumble weird stuff in my sleep, but as far as I know, I stopped doing that in high school.

Anyway, I crave the creation of the narrative, the creation of the fantastical realm and the adventures found within it. It isn't merely that I like characters or making neat descriptions. It isn't that I long to sweat and bleed on a battlefield. It is the creation of the whole shebang that drives me. I am a world builder and a narrative builder. I can't help it, I love it. I think you get the picture at this point.

I love to write as well, like story stories, not DnD scenarios and plots. For a while now, I've felt that I haven't been doing enough of that. DnD is writing, and my plots and descriptions and narratives do get extensive, but it isn't writing in the conventional sense. Part of it being unconventional writing is why I love it so much more than I used to nowadays.

Gaming has always been tied to my friends and sort of a group adventure. Everyone games, even if they only do so because it is a social group thing. We get together and roll dice with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Gaming is so important to me because of this. We are together and having fun and experiencing a story of mine. They're not merely reading my story and telling me they like it, despite its many flaws. They are actually in my story, interacting with it, changing it and remaking it based on their actions. I love gaming so much because it is literally, to me at least, me and some of my best friends in the world, my brothers, sitting down to write a story together in real time, and words cannot express how much I treasure gaming for that reason. 

To switch back to the whole "real" writing thing. For a while I've been wanting to get back to doing that on a more regular basis. In previous eras of life, I have always used blogging or writing stories to cope with a breakup (I have written some truly bad stories in these times). It helps me get my thoughts out and helps me excise the pain or some shit. Anyway, I'm not saying I intend on doing that and writing bad fiction about thinly disguised avatars of Heather and I (again), but I do want to write more. I keep wanting to rewrite my The Last Blade novel and my aborted North Story, maybe it might be time to try it. 

Just a bunch of thoughts DnD I guess.

Music: Hey Pete - Type O Negative

Edit After The Fact: I only include the whole divorce thing so The Book of Faces thing makes sense to be here in this post. I thought it was a neat idea and wanted to mention it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lethal Weapon: D'alton

D'alton sits in his old room in the attic of the Braun family mansion. The detritus of an abandoned life lays in piles around him. The air is hazy with smoke and the dust of disturbed memories. An old brass oil lamp, clad in spiderwebs, flickers feebly next to him as he takes a grimacing drink of brown swill. His revolver is clutched in his other hand, gleaming with gun oil. 

His legs are crossed, and on his lap is a photo, worn and aged, the faded brown of a less modern style of photo. On the right side of the photo is a young Fell Human woman, Ko'serra. On the left side of the photo is a young couple, Ko'serra and a smiling D'alton. D'alton's deft fingers brush across a gray, curving sword blade as the move to claim a bullet from the pile near the sword. He loads a round into the revolver. 

With halting motions, he slams the chamber shut and his thumb fumbles as he pulls back the hammer on the revolver. His hollow eyes gaze at the revolver, and the photo, he reverses the revolver and stares at it dispassionately, closing his eyes and pressing the barrel to his forehead. His features twist and his hands shake, he thrusts the barrel of the revolver into his mouth, his eyes wide and focused now.

His teeth bite into the metal of the gun and his chest surges with his rapid breathing, he grips the revolver with both hands now, his eyes closing, his face a twisted and broken mockery of that on the picture on his lap. His finger tightens on the trigger. He gasps, curses, pulls the revolver from his mouth and smacks it against his forehead, tears forming at the corners of his eyes.

The gun lies next to him, forgotten, as he weeps and draws the photo to his face, clutching it there, murmuring. and weeping.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Plotting The Course To The FUTURE!!!

So, I'm getting into some interesting things here in Hekinoe, and I feel like talking about how I make scenarios. I tend to try and build up a buffer of one or two scenarios. I keep kind of asking the guys about goals and that sort of thing and get an idea about what I am going to write out next. I think that this questioning process kind of leads people to believe that I am something of a haphazard plotter and GM. I know a lot of GMs only build scenarios after they finish one. They'll make it, play it, begin work on the next, rinse and repeat. I kind of work that way, but primarily I try to keep ahead of the guys. There have been times, especially lately, where chunks of my buffer get left out in the cold when the guys decide to go a different route, which isn't the worst thing, as the non-plot content can still be put to work in another area as a fight or trap or whatever.

I am a meticulous planner. I plan events and plots and follow them down towards their conclusions. I don't put any of it to paper unless I absolutely have to, because once it is on paper I become reluctant to deviate from it and it becomes a potential railroad. I only put stuff in my head to paper when it is time to put it into a scenario, or when the plot or idea or whatever becomes too involved to keep track of.

Writing scenarios for Hekinoe isn't really an issue of sitting down and planning out scenarios for the guys. It is more of a situation where I sit down and start trying to wind the various elements of the world that are already present into a scenario. All over The Known World, all of Hekinoe even, I know intimately what is going on. I build scenarios by sitting down and staring at a blinking cursor and visualizing wherever they are or wherever they are going.

Hekinoe is a living world to me. Nothing sits and waits for the players to show up. It isn't WoW or Oblivion where you can't kill quest givers and battles never change anything other than your level. Things move and shift around the world, independent of the players and their actions. Which is not to say their actions can't fuck everything all to Hell, or turn everything perfect. 

I dunno where I'm going with any of this. I guess I'm just trying to kind of explain how I make scenarios. It is a lot different than I used to. I used to start with the question of what are they going to do? Now, each scenario is a more complex process of weaving what the players want to do into what is going on in The Known World around us. It's fun.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Omne-101 (Through 8)

So I'm going to talk about something that isn't common knowledge in The Known World. Actually, it would be common knowledge for Kethralzahn. So a long long time ago in The Known World the Fallen were bound irrevocably to life by The Bleak Tyrant. They were kept immortal, but not forever young, and as the appetite for food and drink left them and others forgot to breathe, their bodies broke down and they began to decay.

That's the thing. The Bleak Tyrant granted the Eldumans that would become the Fallen true immortality, except he didn't perfectly preserve their flesh. So as they advanced and aged hunger and thirst left them, but their bodies still required them to live. They forgot to breathe, because not doing so could not kill them. They were injured, but their bodies did not heal. So, they rotted from disease and age and injury.

So to continue, as the Fallen fell apart, their minds did not die. If a Fallen burned or was otherwise completely destroyed, they could still be sensed and detected. Sorcery could be used to communicate with them as well, but they were completely silent and passive creatures that could not interact with the physical world or be seen, they were just there, waiting and silent.

So after decades of experimentation, the physical Fallen found a way to bind the incorporeal Fallen into a physical object and through other spells (specifically a variation of Magic Mouth) they were able to grant them the ability to communicate. So now the Fallen have the oldest most powerful members of the race back and able to shape the fate of the nation and contribute to their knowledge and power.

The next step in this as you may have guessed, is the creation of the Soulless. Soulless are animated by necromancy, specifically by taking a heart and binding the ash of six or seven Fallen to it with sorcery and kind of baking it so it ends up being this heart-shaped urn of super necromancy containing ash. This heart urn is the animating force of Soulless. They can talk via that variation on Magic Mouth, see, and move. They are completely 100% sorcerous creations, and not itty bitty minor sorcery either, they are created by some potent shit, and it is the ambient super necromantic energy of those Fallen that powers the whole mess.

Between Fallen that are bound within little gems and chairs and toys and the Soulless is a step in the evolution/devolution of this creature. That step is Omne-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Once the Fallen discovered that they could bind Fallen into inanimate objects, they decided to create war machines to bind them in. Kind of like the Soulless that would eventually be made. They took eight of their oldest, most ancient and learned and just plain powerful Fallen. Fallen so ancient that they were no more than foul smelling leather wrapped around bones so bleached by time that they would crumble if pressed between thumb and forefinger for too long. Every time they spoke, a tooth older than The New Empire crumbled, every time a they cast a spell another finger bone fell from bony hands and turned to dust on the wind, and so on.

Then they bound those dried and crumbling corpses in iron. They replaced tendons and ligaments with springsteel wire, made ribs of wolf-iron, eyes of black glass cut from the walls of the Necropolis. Then they piled on more armor. They doubled, tripled, and quadrupled the size of these Fallen, bent and broke these tortured iron creatures into the shapes of metal beasts the size of a small house. Somewhere between the beginning and end of this project, the eight Fallen went from being honored patriots to tormented slaves. Everything that was done to them hurt, for they were still alive, and as metal was added to bone it became their body and they could feel what it felt, they could feel their new flesh being welded and bolted and reconfigured into something else.

When the Fallen were done, they had eight massive creatures, all spikes and talons and snarling animal faces. Creatures with ancient minds and sorcery so potent they no longer needed base components or gestures, their words alone were enough to change reality, creatures that could not be restrained or halted in battle, angry creatures that had been tortured and broken and remade into beasts that hated the race that they had once been members of. Their names were taken from them and they were renamed Omne, a phrase in Wretchtongue that meant slave beast, and dubbed Omne-1 through 8. The end result of this project amounted to eight iron golems built in the shape of huge beasts and equipped with the most powerful spellcasting abilities in The Known World.

In short, the Fallen bit off far more than they could safely chew with this program.

The eight Omnes were unstoppable in battle. There is an ancient legend in The New Empire of a beast with armored hide and breath of fire called Somnen. Legend says it comes in the night and lays wastes to entire towns with fire and huge scything talons, this beast does not eat the dead, for it seeks only to make the living suffer. Records in the Fallen Empire indicate that this legend is based on the work of Omne-7, who in life was the most powerful pyromancer ever seen among the Fallen. They were also used to pacify the lands around the Necropolis and the destruction they were capable of soon struck fear even into the hearts of the malignant mutant beasts of The Fallen Empire, the legacy of this extermination effort has allowed platoons of Soulless to march through The Fallen Empire of Man unmolested by anything more harmful than night fowls that cling to them like camp followers in a more conventional army. The platoons make almost as much noise as the mighty Omne did when they tread across the fields of The Fallen Empire.

At the time of Spineplate's creation, roughly 9857 DK, Only Omne-4, 5, and 7 were still alive. Their five brothers had either been destroyed in battle, or put down by the Fallen because of unruly behavior. As the Omne aged, they became more powerful. They learned and grew stronger and achieved a closer union between metal flesh and sorcerous mind, and they became more and more resistant to the sorceries of lesser creatures.

Omne-5 and 7 did not survive the decade. Omne-5 was destroyed in battle by Volung himself, and 7 was put down by the Fallen, leaving only Omne-4. Omne-4 was no more remarkable than his brethren, a powerful dead wizard bound into the metal body of a beast. He was angry and cunning though. At every opportunity he obeyed and turned his rage at his masters out towards their enemies. He lurked in the depths of the Necropolis, feigning loyal service, destroying his Fallen masters only when they pushed him too far and inflicted petty torments upon him, he bound his anger in chains of will stronger than the metal bound to his dusty remains. 

For his loyal service, he was rewarded, he was allowed to teach and train the Soulless when they were created, specifically, the seventh one created, Spineplate. It was never known by Spineplate or the Fallen that created him, for only Omne-4 knew who he had once been, but two of the seven Fallen that became Spineplates mind were descendants of the Elduman that Omne-4 had been. Omne-4 taught Spineplate that the Fallen were flesh, and flesh must always bow to the strength of steel. He taught Spineplate that the Fallen did not control him, could not, they could only torment him from within, and if he cultivated a willpower as strong as his flesh, he could ignore them and bend them to his will. He taught Spineplate that he was not trapped with the Fallen in his mind, they were trapped within his, cut off from other Fallen. They could argue and yell at him, but they could never communicate his thoughts to the Fallen that believed him a loyal servant. Omne-4 taught Spineplate all of this, but his main lesson was war and destruction. He made young Spineplate into a weapon, a warrior that cared nothing for the weakness of flesh, a warrior that reveled in pitting the strength of steel against that of flesh and storming through the field of battle to the music of weapons clashing. 

A'lst is the ancient electrician that fathered Kethranmeer and made him into the leader he became before his death. Omne-4 is the immortal warbeast of metal and sorcery that fathered Spineplate and made him into the blood slick warrior that was able to survive the mines of Beltan and taught him the Fallen were not worthy and should not be the masters of the Soulless, that metal was superior to flesh. Omne-4's influence allowed Kethranmeer to fight Nakmander and bust heads with his mighty hammer to protect The Robust Five, his sons, and Kusseth, but it was A'lst that taught him why he should wield that hammer. 

So there is some more about Kethranmeer and the backstory of the Rankethlek. 

Music: Weis & Hickman - Melt Wizard